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Mander Organs
Richard McVeigh

York Minster

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Thought I might let you know that the advertisment will be in the Church Times on Friday 14th December. I'll keep all the latest news in here, as I know it is a muchly anticipated appointment!

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The Dean of York announced this Sunday that from September 2008, Robert Sharpe from Truro Cathedral will become the next Director of Music at York Minster. Many congratulations to him and his family.

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Guest Cynic
Robert Quinney must be ripe for a DOM post !

 

 

I realise that you mean no harm, but I have to confess I am worried the way that this sort of topic tends to go. Surely such discussions/nominations/speculations are best kept to personal chats rather than published on the net? Our talk over the last few months about St.John's Cambridge, St.Paul's etc. was bad enough, but what has to be described as 'The York Minster Spoiler' link re-posted here from the BBC's 'The Choir' Forum topped them. This is not how appointments should be.

 

Even if one of us was on an appointing panel, all that could end up here, prior to the actual appointment is pure conjecture; conjecture at the possible expense of someone's reputation/standing.

 

I totally agree that Robert Quinney is an outstanding musician, well ready for another post, but the fact is he may well not be interested in the one someone here nominates him for. We may well be stimulated into thinking that he has put in for it and then when the result is finally known there is the implication that he has been passed over - this is not fair to him at all! In a similar fashion, naming one excellent musician and not other contenders is invidious. None of us can possibly know everyone with talent that might apply - those will current high profile posts will come to mind wheras others with equal gifts may not be in the public eye as much. I am happy for York Minster and Robert Sharpe, but it is worth noting that his reputation has been considerably enhanced by one particular extremely good Choral Evensong broadcast. As commented upon elsewhere, it has come to light that for this special occasion a goodly number of lay-clerks were 'borrowed' from other top choirs. He was able to do this because his Dean loves his music. Sadly, very few cathedrals would be able to 'pull this stunt' and thus benefit from it! Good for The Very Revd. Christopher Harwick and Robert Sharpe, but an indicator of the way that these days Media is everything.

 

If I were to try and name those who deserve a better cathedral post than the one they currently hold, there would be a list of at least a dozen names here. In fact, some have been offered 'better' posts and turned them down. People have their own reasons and why not?! Here's one plea that such columns be kept for the announcement of actual results rather than gossip or worse.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
If I were to try and name those who deserve a better cathedral post than the one they currently hold, there would be a list of at least a dozen names here. In fact, some have been offered 'better' posts and turned them down. People have their own reasons and why not?! Here's one plea that such columns be kept for the announcement of actual results rather than gossip or worse.

 

Hear, hear!

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...In a similar fashion, naming one excellent musician and not other contenders is invidious. None of us can possibly know everyone with talent that might apply - those will current high profile posts will come to mind wheras others with equal gifts may not be in the public eye as much. I am happy for York Minster and Robert Sharpe, but it is worth noting that his reputation has been considerably enhanced by one particular extremely good Choral Evensong broadcast. As commented upon elsewhere, it has come to light that for this special occasion a goodly number of lay-clerks were 'borrowed' from other top choirs. He was able to do this because his Dean loves his music. Sadly, very few cathedrals would be able to 'pull this stunt' and thus benefit from it! Good for The Very Revd. Christopher Harwick and Robert Sharpe, but an indicator of the way that these days Media is everything.

 

 

May I just say that I quite agree that public fora are not the place for wild speculation, as Paul as pointed out. May I also say, to put the record straight, that all of the broadcasts from Truro in my time there have been sung with the resident team of musicians only. In 2006, we had one tenor deputy, a former choral scholar who happened then to be a lay clerk at St George's Windsor. He was booked because he was available at the time and has many friends to visit here and one (only) of our regular twelve singers was away. There are no tenor deputies in Cornwall. Needless to say, the big tenor solo which formed part of the anthem at that particular service was sung by one of our regular lay vicars. It is absolute nonsense to suggest that "a goodly number of lay clerks were 'borrowed' from other top choirs" and I much resent such ill-informed suggestion. Moreover, whilst our Dean Chris Hardwick is indeed a great supporter of the choir, he has absolutely nothing to do with the day to day training and recruitment and leaves all such matters in the hands of the Director of Music, whether for daily evensongs or broadcasts and assumes they will be sorted out just as they were under the previous two Deans and also during the year-long interegnum when the whole future of the choir was under scrtiny. He is also a relative new-comer here! Please avoid presenting information on these boards as if it were well-informed fact, whether discussing potential appointments, recently made ones or anything else!!

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Guest Cynic
May I just say that I quite agree that public fora are not the place for wild speculation, as Paul as pointed out. May I also say, to put the record straight, that all of the broadcasts from Truro in my time there have been sung with the resident team of musicians only. In 2006, we had one tenor deputy, a former choral scholar who happened then to be a lay clerk at St George's Windsor. He was booked because he was available at the time and has many friends to visit here and one (only) of our regular twelve singers was away. There are no tenor deputies in Cornwall. Needless to say, the big tenor solo which formed part of the anthem at that particular service was sung by one of our regular lay vicars. It is absolute nonsense to suggest that "a goodly number of lay clerks were 'borrowed' from other top choirs" and I much resent such ill-informed suggestion. Moreover, whilst our Dean Chris Hardwick is indeed a great supporter of the choir, he has absolutely nothing to do with the day to day training and recruitment and leaves all such matters in the hands of the Director of Music, whether for daily evensongs or broadcasts and assumes they will be sorted out just as they were under the previous two Deans and also during the year-long interegnum when the whole future of the choir was under scrtiny. He is also a relative new-comer here! Please avoid presenting information on these boards as if it were well-informed fact, whether discussing potential appointments, recently made ones or anything else!!

 

 

I accept everything that Robert says (quoted above) and withdraw my (at it turned out) ill-founded comment about the Choral Evensong broadcast. In my defence, I merely repeated comments which had been made on two other fora, viz. BBC's The Choir and Yahoo Lay Clerks Group. I apologise without any reservation whatsoever.

 

I hope it was already clear that I wish Robert nothing but good and that I recognised the excellent work he has done at Truro and that I expect him to do in his new post at York.

 

[Derrett goofs again - is this four or five times now?]

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I accept everything that Robert says (quoted above) and withdraw my (at it turned out) ill-founded comment about the Choral Evensong broadcast. In my defence, I merely repeated comments which had been made on two other fora, viz. BBC's The Choir and Yahoo Lay Clerks Group. I apologise without any reservation whatsoever.

 

I hope it was already clear that I wish Robert nothing but good and that I recognised the excellent work he has done at Truro and that I expect him to do in his new post at York.

 

[Derrett goofs again - is this four or five times now?]

 

 

Apologies from me also as my punt abt the Truro post led Paul down such a sinful path. I join with Paul in wishing Robert all the best at York. Exciting times ahead for the Minster, I think !

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I'm not sure how often Robert is 'on' here, but congrats on the new disc (your last from Truro?) of Paul Spicer's organ music. Anyone looking for something to spend idle pennies on and prepared to try something a little different, give it a try.

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Possibly the reason for Cynic's faux pas re. the Truro broadcast is that it is generally accepted practise in some circles to take on extra singers for major events. I never do this - however there are often singers who expect to be asked and are offended when you don't. All goes to prove that you can't win in this game. I will, however, be sticking firmly to my priciples and applaud all those others who follow the same path.

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Guest Barry Williams

This is interesting. We used to attend a cathedral where 'supernumaries' augmented the choir on Sundays. The choir was not nearly so good as on the weekdays when only the professional men were singing with the top line. The Lay Clerks had well-trained and focused voices. The addition of worthy volunteers without the skill and training of the professionals needlessly diluted the excellence and spoiled the effect. I strongly suspect that the boys reacted better to the sound on weekdays.

 

Barry Williams

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This is interesting. We used to attend a cathedral where 'supernumaries' augmented the choir on Sundays. The choir was not nearly so good as on the weekdays when only the professional men were singing with the top line. The Lay Clerks had well-trained and focused voices. The addition of worthy volunteers without the skill and training of the professionals needlessly diluted the excellence and spoiled the effect. I strongly suspect that the boys reacted better to the sound on weekdays.

 

Barry Williams

 

'Bit of a generalisation perhaps Barry - I was once a supernumary at a major establishment and I hope that the above was not the case when I was on duty at weekends or on the numerous occasions during the week when I was asked to sing. Certainly the DOM then always seemed happy with my contribution and with a full time teaching job I was not able to do the full gamut. It was bit 'by the seat of one's pants' on occasions but an incredible experience especially as the musical set up there was in a state of reinvigoration by a super gent. of a DOM who has now gone on to higher places (position that is - not heaven). I hasten to add that I do have a decent music degree with voice as first study albeit taken some years ago now.

 

AJJ

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Guest Barry Williams
'Bit of a generalisation perhaps Barry - I was once a supernumary at a major establishment and I hope that the above was not the case when I was on duty at weekends or on the numerous occasions during the week when I was asked to sing. Certainly the DOM then always seemed happy with my contribution and with a full time teaching job I was not able to do the full gamut. It was bit 'by the seat of one's pants' on occasions but an incredible experience especially as the musical set up there was in a state of reinvigoration by a super gent. of a DOM who has now gone on to higher places (position that is - not heaven). I hasten to add that I do have a decent music degree with voice as first study albeit taken some years ago now.

 

AJJ

 

Thank you. It is interesting to debate these things.

 

My posting was not intended to be a generalisation at all. I referred only to one establishment and then to our specific experience there, not to any other place. The analysis may be coloured by my preference for a few well-trained voices, rather than a large number of less skilled singers. I do not subscribe to the 'safety in numbers' approach of certain establishments. Also, I am convinced that boys (and girls) sing better with properly trained voices behind them.

 

Any choir is really only as good as the weakest member. The 'seat of the pants' is a very necessary part of performance and a competent choirmaster will know exactly how much practice is necessary to get something right without killing the performance by over rehearsal.

 

Alas, these days, choirs seems to be less common in churches than hitherto. Is this one of the reasons why attendance at cathedrals is increasing whilst attendance at some local churches is falling? People appreciate fine music done well and find it uplifting. Aiming at good liturgy and good music has worked for Father Patrick Coleman of this Board. It is about standards rather than numbers of singers or the complexity of the music. Everything in church should be done very well, from the flowers to the serving, the reading, the preaching and the music.

 

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Barry Williams

Yes. Some of the most exciting and competent performances I have heard have been with just one voice to a part.

 

Many churches see the choir as a social activity rather than as a function of worship, so everyone is invited to join, whatever their level of vocal and musical skill. The results do not always edify or glorify, however enjoyable they may be for the performers.

 

Barry Williams

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Yes. Some of the most exciting and competent performances I have heard have been with just one voice to a part.

Yes. And some of the most ill-blended, badly balanced and badly tuned performances I have heard have also been with just one professional voice per part. It all depends, doesn't it? You can't generalise.

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Guest Barry Williams
Yes. And some of the most ill-blended, badly balanced and badly tuned performances I have heard have also been with just one professional voice per part. It all depends, doesn't it? You can't generalise.

 

Of course, which is why I confined my comments to my own experience. However, I still maintain that a choir is not necessarily improved by adding more singers. Quality rather than quantity is what is needed.

 

Most churches have difficulty finding anyone who is willing to commit themselves to church music. Many choristers attend choir practice then go and play rugby on a Sunday morning. It seems that parental commitment is less than it used to be, or perhaps there are more alternatives, but adults also seem less commited than years ago.

 

Barry Williams

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Thank you. It is interesting to debate these things.

 

My posting was not intended to be a generalisation at all. I referred only to one establishment and then to our specific experience there, not to any other place. The analysis may be coloured by my preference for a few well-trained voices, rather than a large number of less skilled singers. I do not subscribe to the 'safety in numbers' approach of certain establishments. Also, I am convinced that boys (and girls) sing better with properly trained voices behind them.

 

Any choir is really only as good as the weakest member. The 'seat of the pants' is a very necessary part of performance and a competent choirmaster will know exactly how much practice is necessary to get something right without killing the performance by over rehearsal.

 

Alas, these days, choirs seems to be less common in churches than hitherto. Is this one of the reasons why attendance at cathedrals is increasing whilst attendance at some local churches is falling? People appreciate fine music done well and find it uplifting. Aiming at good liturgy and good music has worked for Father Patrick Coleman of this Board. It is about standards rather than numbers of singers or the complexity of the music. Everything in church should be done very well, from the flowers to the serving, the reading, the preaching and the music.

Barry Williams

 

 

As you say - good to debate and of course point taken!

 

AJJ

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